2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme

The Homes and Communities Agency published its framework for bids to the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme in mid-February with a deadline of Wednesday, 3rd May for submission of all bids.

Set out below is a checklist to help you through some of the new thoughts and requirements that arise from this new framework. Happy Bidding.

How well do you know your national and regional strategic policies?
Step one:
Get a better understanding of regional strategies within your area, especially the London Mayor’s Housing Strategy and Planning guidance for RPs operating in London.

How well do you know your Local Authority Partners?
Step two:
Get to know your LA partners even better. A more detailed and intimate understanding at Local Authority (LA) level will be a crucial feature of the programme development. Read and absorb Local Investment Plans (LIPs)

Still step two:
Engage with LAs in a much more strategic way and be prepared to adopt an open book approach to the provision of new housing supply.

Step three:
Invest in greater area based intelligence. Find out about local demographics, economic assessments, infrastructure as well as the local housing markets.

Act commercially
Step four:
Fine tune your commercial knowledge – Registered Providers (RPs) will need to adopt a more commercial approach to their new build programmes. Consider developing strategic alliances with LA partners other RPs and house builders.

Step five:
Managing risk will be key to successful development and an even more rigorous approach to programme development and assessment must be applied.

Step six:
Identify Joint Venture opportunities with established house builders and the possibility of creating development vehicles with LA partners.

Does the AHP work to support scheme viabilities?
Step seven:
If gearing covenant is high and borrowing capacity is strong then nil grant developments are an option that should be seriously considered.

Step eight:
RPs may want to operate as a mainstream house builder, if they have the skills. By refocusing, RPs can develop new and diverse development streams, including intermediate and homes for sale.

Required governance
Step nine:
Make sure that the board and executive team have debated the impact of these new options. The advice of the organisation’s Finance Director should underpin any decisions made.

What about existing residents?
Step ten:
Reassure existing residents and stakeholders of continued commitment to excellence and protected services. However, manage expectations going forward.